This breaking news report will be updated as events continue to unfold.
Responding to outgoing President Donald Trump’s call to disrupt the counting of electoral votes that would confirm his defeat, hundreds of his supporters broke into the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, forcing Congress to halt its work and Vice President Mike Pence to be evacuated as the mob overcame token resistance from the police.
The chaos entered the House chamber with a loud shout from the hall outside as Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, was reciting a litany of false claims about the validity of the vote count in his state as part of a planned series of bogus objections to the certified results from Trump supporters in Congress.
Within minutes, Congressional reporters shared images of windows being smashed by the mob, and Trump supporters marauding through the halls, eventually seizing the Senate chamber and facing off with armed officers at the door of the House.
The far-right YouTuber, Elijah Schaffer, who was embedded with the pro-Trump mob, shared footage of the police losing control of the Capitol to the president’s vigilantes.
BREAKING: Trump supporters have breached the Capitol building, tearing down 4 layers of security fencing and are attempting to occupy the building — fighting federal police who are overrun
This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Thousands, police can’t stop them pic.twitter.com/VVdTUwV5YN
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER (@ElijahSchaffer) January 6, 2021
As the Capitol police were overwhelmed, a source in the Defense Department gave conflicting accounts to reporters as to why a request from Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, for the National Guard to be deployed was not immediately met.
Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, announced that he was responding to a request from the mayor, to send “members of the Virginia National Guard along with 200 Virginia State Troopers” to the Capitol.
“As we figured out during the BLM protests,” Charlie Savage of The New York Times observed on Twitter, “the thing about calling out the National Guard to quell this riot is that because D.C. is not a state, the commander of those troops would not be Muriel Bowser, D.C.’s elected leader. They would instead be controlled by… Donald Trump.”
Later in the afternoon, a defense official told Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post that “The entire D.C. National Guard will be activated today, putting about 1,100 guardsmen on duty tonight.”
Even when the Capitol police attempted to retake the building from the mob, the officers seemed generally reluctant to use force.
As many observers noted on social networks, the restraint demonstrated by the police during the initial storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump’s supporters stood in stark contrast to the far greater levels of violence routinely inflicted on racial justice protesters over the past year.
Amid the chaos inside the Capitol building, a radical anti-abortion activist tweeted video that appeared to show a woman wrapped in a Trump flag bleeding heavily after being shot in the neck. The video quickly went viral online, but the exact circumstances have not yet been confirmed.
Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, President-elect Joe Biden called on Trump “to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, Trump made a half-hearted effort to end the attempted coup he had requested, tweeting a video in which he reiterated his false claim that he won the election in a landslide but calling for his supporters to “go home now.”
The Washington Post reported that a man with a megaphone told a crowd of hundreds outside the Capitol: “Hey, everyone, Donald Trump says he wants everyone to go home.”
He was met with loud booing.
The president’s call for “peace” appeared not to reach his supporters outside the Capitol, who attacked reporters and destroyed their equipment.